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–Leslie Brenner,
Dallas Morning News
Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Sun–Wed 11:00am–11:00pm
Thu–Sat 11:00am–1:00am

Features Date-friendly, good wines
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


1738 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 234-6969
Bistrot du Coin
Quirky and fun, yet still reliable

At every turn in this roaringly lively space, you’ll see its mascot: a jowly, portly, apron-clad chef, chest hair proudly displayed, hands on hips, nose in air. The little man, who also sports a beret and clogs, might just be an ideal representative of the Bistrot: comically French, pointedly mismatched, and full of whimsy.

The décor matches our miniature chef friend. The walls are lined with posters, photos, signs, and perhaps some out-of-season Christmas paraphernalia. Yellow lighting, paper linens, and disco balls…are you dining in your batty uncle’s attic? As the tables are jammed close together, it’s impossible not to be jostled. On a single visit, we’ve made contact with two men in berets, three men with very nice canes, and four priests. Waiters have their hands full navigating: plates teeter and threaten to bash into diners’ heads before landing on tables too small to host them. It’s a total pain—and it’s endlessly fun.

As for what’s on those plates, a good bit of it is delightful, especially the brasserie classics. French onion soup bubbles over a cast iron bowl; it’s oily but rich, with cheese that oozes into tiny filaments that end up everywhere. Mussels have been even better; moules normandes, for instance, feature leeks, potatoes, bacon, and a cream sauce that begs to be scooped out with mussel shells and then sopped up with bread until the bowl is dry. Postage-stamp ravioli are translucent green and erupt in herby-creamy goodness. Steaks are properly cooked to temperature. French fries are consistently some of the best in the city. And an underappreciated element of the Bistrot is its carefully chosen, low-markup wine list, whose reasonably priced midrange Burgundies should be the envy of many a more pretentious joint.

Certainly there are some corners cut here, though, especially with salads. Raw artichokes and asparagus taste canned or jarred. A tartiflette is far too rich and badly needs something to cut through the grease. The “French style” banana split and profiteroles look better than they taste. Even so, we don’t understand why Bistrot du Coin has so many harsh critics in town. Surly service aside, this is one of the most reliable tables in the Dupont Circle area—and they serve dinner later than almost anyone around.

Around nine, previously unnoticed strobe lights flash and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” inexplicably comes on. The gregarious owner, a few glasses of wine into the night, starts wandering the room with mike in hand, interviewing random customers like a daytime talk-show host. No one is phased. Dessert gets ordered, and more wine. Odd uncle indeed. Enchanté!

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